You loved your website when it launched. It was simple and clean. But now, you’re feeling the itch of “web envy”. You visit other companies sites (maybe competitors) and wish yours had that wow factor. Suddenly your downtown loft with high ceilings feels more like a tiny studio apartment.
But just like we learned as children, looks aren’t everything! What’s more important is on the inside and the same concept applies to websites. You may take note of site designs that you really like, but do they actually convert visitors?
We’ve witnessed far too many website redesigns that actually result in a lower conversion rate than the original site. This happens when businesses want the latest, most modern look, with trendy elements, but completely forget about the attributes of their original site that were converting. The business then feels defeated, blames the web designer, and seeks our help to increase conversions.
While the web design trends we’re listing below have been known to negatively impact conversions, there are always several variables that can also contribute to a low rate including the product, price, and the customer’s expectations. So before you dive into your website redesign, consider these factors:
Large Header Images
Large header images for the homepage are very popular right now as they give businesses the opportunity to showcase a powerful first impression. However, they typically take up quite a bit of vertical space, requiring the visitor to scroll to see information, and thus making it more difficult to achieve a conversion.
To improve conversions, add a call-to-action button over the image. A ‘Learn More’ or ‘Subscribe to Our Newsletter’ button encourages visitors to engage with your business and get further down the buyer’s journey.
Here is an example of a large image on the homepage which does very little to inform, showcase the product, or draw out a buying action.
A mobile responsive website is absolutely critical to achieving conversions, but often times you’ll see products, images, or important elements stacked on top of one another when viewing on a Smartphone. While they fit the width of the screen, this requires the visitor to do quite a bit of scrolling. Make sure your web developer makes adjustments to the mobile view to avoid this by removing or condensing elements that are not critical for the mobile visitor.
Sometimes responsive websites sometimes have a layout that is not optimized properly for conversions. For example, only a few products or images will appear on a horizontal line, requiring more scrolling. Showcasing more products with slightly smaller thumbnails will encourage the user to click through and thus be more likely to convert.
Parallax websites are all the rage right now. It’s the technique of using CSS so that all the elements on the page scroll together. Cool, yes, but that doesn’t mean the design is a great fit for every site. They’re great for aesthetics, but not always great for doing the selling products or services. Information is often presented on one long webpage which can confuse visitors who are conditioned to view separate pages like the About Us page, Blog or Portfolio pages before converting. In addition, parallax designs have been known for:
- Slower load speeds
- Possibly affecting search engine ranking due to being less mobile-friendly
Yes, we realize our homepage uses parallax. We are big fans of parallax when the elements come together nicely and serve as a jumpoff point to get deeper into any area the visitor wants go.
Mirroring Desktop Site Elements on Mobile
When visitors are on the go, they don’t have time to scroll endlessly through a web page. Mirroring the desktop version of a site for mobile devices can be overwhelming on a smaller screen. Sometimes the navigation, the content, the number of pages, and amount of text needs to be paired down and tailored to the way people browse on mobile.
Not Enough Focus on Building Trust
When businesses are more concerned about updating their website with the latest trends, sometimes they forget about establishing a connection with their audience and building trust.
Visitors will recognize a lack of experience if there’s very little text, overuse of generic stock images, and zero customer testimonials. Setting up a Google Trusted Stores or Trustpilot widget will go far to drive more conversions because it shows new visitors that your business is reputable and have given other customers a good buying experience in the past.
Here is a good example of a company that effectively uses customer testimonials, BBB and Trustpilot logos to instill trust.
Not Enough Content
Further to the point above, when websites rely more on images and graphics than text, users feel uninformed. Not only is having enough copy important for the UX, quality content will improve your search engine ranking.
When there’s a lack of copy around links and buttons, visitors won’t have the incentive to click into those areas. For example, websites that use carousel headers require the visitor to wait and view all the slides in order to get the entire story. If you have an important offer, don’t hide in a sliding banner!
Hammering on trust ONE LAST TIME… without the above trust elements in place, and with an overly modern design, visitors may get the feeling that the business is new. With that comes the feeling that the business is inexperienced. Unless, you’re the only one on the planet that sells this “thing” you should consider the visitor psychology. It’s in same subject category as red colored buttons.
Unoptimized Checkout Pages
We’ve seen checkout pages where the buttons or fields appear below the fold, making visitors scroll up and down to fill out all the info. Make sure you’re checkout pages are responsive. They should feel seamless and well integrated with the cart page. Some checkout pages are multi step, which is good because it tends to keep the important fields in view.
Here are a few examples: 1) checkout page with too many fields on one page…
…and 2) long checkout page that requires lots of scrolling up and down to get all the info completed.
Overuse of Mega Menus or Drop Down Menus
When websites have a large number of pages, sometimes they’ll add every single page to their navigation or menu. This creates a mega menu with multiple tiers and drop downs. This style of navigation can work for some websites, but sometimes they’re too overwhelming to the visitor.
The drop down menu and flyout menu can be very messy as well. This example from Vista Print shows the drop down menu so long, it goes beyond the fold (bottom) of the page to where it can’t even be seen. Then the flyout menu is just as long, creating a very overwhelming for the visitor.
Lack of Character (Too Much White!)
Websites were becoming more and more cluttered which eventually lead to the adoption of a simpler look. Minimalism is hot right now in photography, social media, and websites. This means many businesses are adopting the white, clean look with very little color. But what’s memorable about that? Your website should be unique and leave an impression on your visitor that results in later brand recall.
High quality images and videos are great to include on your site, but only if they’re optimized for fast load speed. If they’re giant files, they’ll slow down your website and we know that most people are too impatient to wait around.
The Invisible Search Bar
The search bar on your website can be an extremely valuable tool to help visitors find what they’re looking for right away, and also tell you what your audience needs. Don’t let the search box blend in with its background.
The goals for each website will vary, but chances are, most businesses want their visitors to take action. Regardless of what conversions you’re encouraging on your website, it’s important to be mindful of both aesthetics and function. Talk to your CRO partner about the best way to strike that balance to achieve a website that looks appealing and converts.